I was out of town this weekend, so some of these predictions are slightly belated. On the plus side, the models that make the picks are completely public, so you already know what I’m going to say. Here we go!
New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers: The number 1 seed Rangers managed to make it out in 7 games, and now they face the 6 seed Devils. The Rangers are probably the better team, but that doesn’t mean much in the NHL playoffs. With a 20 goal differential advantage in the regular season, I give the Rangers a 59% chance of winning the series overall, and the Devils probably win two.
Los Angeles Kings at Phoenix Coyotes: Over in the West we have the 3 seed Coyotes hosting the 8 seed Kings. Hooray hockey! The Kings actually have the edge because they had the better goal differential in the regular season (15 to 12) and home ice does nothing for you in recent hockey history. So give the Kings the edge on the coinflip: they win 51% of the time and the Coyotes win one game (one, two, and three are basically equally likely).
NBA: I’m officially in trouble in the stat geek smackdown. Both the Nuggets and Grizzlies, my coin-toss picks, lost in game 7 of their series. Ben Morris and Matthew Stahlhut got both right and have solid leads over the field already.
Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat: Sometimes the picks are easy. Miami is a really good team while the Knicks aren’t, and they were quickly dismissed. The Pacers are a better team, but still not in the Heat’s league. Even with Bosh out, I don’t see the model going wrong here. I have the Heat winning 78% of the time and the Pacers taking two (slightly preferred to one).
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics: This is an interesting one. Boston has home court, but Philly actually has the better point differential. And again, that’s mostly due to how they played early in the season. Philly could be overlooked since they got past a Bulls team missing Rose and Noah. But I’m going to take them anyway, winning 53% of the time. The Celtics take two.
Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs are a buzzsaw, and the Clippers won’t be pulling any miracle come-backs or staying close enough for Chris Paul to come alive in the fourth, I don’t think. The Spurs move on 88% of the time, with the Clippers winning one.
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder: As much as I like Gasol and Bynum as the credit underdogs on Kobe’s march through history, I don’t like their odds here. The Thunder are a complete team and they have home court. I’m taking the Thunder to win 87% of the time with the Lakers winning one game.
So can I make up any ground in the Smackdown? Everyone is taking the Heat, it’s just a question of how many games. Only two other people have six, so if that turns out I can make up a couple points. The 76ers could be my main play, as only Ilardi also has them (and also in 6). So if they come through, that’s a big move for me. No picks are listed right now for the West, but I’m going to assume everyone takes the Spurs as well. There might be a couple takers for the Lakers, or more picks for a long series at least, but I’m guessing the Thunder will also be popular. It looks like Arturo’s picks line up with my expectations at least. Hopefully that come-from-behind win for the Celtics is a sign that they aren’t going to be able to ride home court this series.